About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Male and female cardinals remain in close contact year-round

A regular resident of mid-Michigan backyards, the Northern Cardinals form one of the bird world's most faithful pair bonds. The male and female remain in close contact year-round, singing to one another through the seasons with soft, bubbly whistles. The female is known to sing while on the nest, and it is believed that she is informing her partner whether or not she or the young need food.

The red color of the Cardinal’s feathers is the result of pigments called carotenoids. The amount of the pigment ingested, and then deposited in the feathers as they molt in the fall, influences the quality and depth of their red coloration. A study done by the Ohio State University found that juveniles, less efficient foragers than adults, often have a duller red feather coloration.

At the feeding stations the birds tend to prefer seeds that provide the most nutrients. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published a landmark study of bird food preferences in 1980 for several bird species and found cardinals exhibited the greatest preference for fresh oil sunflower, peanuts, safflower, and millet. They avoid buckwheat, cracked corn, milo, oats, wheat, nyjer, canary, flax, rapeseed, and rice.

A cardinal's food habits in the north consists of more than 75% plant material from November to April. From May to October it changes to about 50% plant and the rest consists of animal matter predominately from insects, including beetles, grasshoppers, crickets, butterfly and moth larvae, cicadas, treehoppers, leafhoppers, and dragonflies.

Regardless of the season, the bird species you attract is determined primarily by the seeds you offer. To provide the most beneficial foods to meet birds' nutritional needs, the birds in Michigan should be fed fresh Black-Oil Sunflower, Sunflower Chips, White Proso Millet, Safflower, Peanuts, Nyjer® Thistle, nectar, mealworms, or suet.

Avoid purchasing seed blends that contain filler seeds that will be kicked out of the feeder and can leave a dangerous moldy pile under your feeders.
Wild Birds Unlimited No-mess Blend is our best selling blend. It has everything the birds want and leaves no messy shells behind. For more info on our unique No-Mess Blend bird seed which features seeds that have had their shells removed so only the meat of the seed is left, click HERE.
Whatever seed, seed cake, or suet you choose at Wild Birds Unlimited, we guarantee it will be fresh and a healthy choice for our local birds.

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